Ares is the Greek god of war. The Benchmade Ares is a fighting knife. There’s something about the way it rests in your hand, the feel of the grip and the shape of the blade that says, “This blade wasn’t meant for peeling apples.” Allen Elishewitz definitely has an eye for creating good-looking knives that function like fine machines.
The Model 730 (Burgundy/Black) and the new Model 735 (Green/Black) are the two variations of this design. (The knife pictured above is actually a limited edition Model 730 — more on that below). Handles are fashioned of a unique two-toned G10 which is dynamically shaped for personal distinction and appreciable performance. Just below the handle surface are double stainless steel liners with finger treads for improved control, and liners are also cleverly skeletonized to lighten the load. The Ares features a spear-point blade shape and dual thumb-stud openers. The powerful 154 CM blade combined with the patented AXIS locking mechanism makes for a superbly functional knife. Both models come with a movable carry-clip and lanyard hole for added security.
I have been carrying a Benchmade Mini-AFCK which I like a lot for style and quality, but I continued to be bothered by the difficulty in opening it. The Spyderco thumb hole doesn’t work well for me, especially left handed. My knife advisor suggested that perhaps my hands were just a bit too big for the Mini-AFCK and were the source of my difficulty with opening it. I carry my knife on the left side front pocket for a couple of reasons, the most important of which is that I carry my gun on the right (strong side). The rationale for doing this is that, in the event that someone was trying to get my gun, I could prevent the disarm with the strong hand and access the knife with the left in order to get the assailant off of my strong hand and the gun. Second to that, and far less tactical, I have always carried my keys and change in my right front pocket and I don’t want the knife in there too. To me, the gun is the primary weapon whereas the knife is a fall-back weapon and utility tool. Nevertheless, the knife is an extremely important piece of equipment to me. The gun can only do one thing; the knife does many.
The “Axis Lock” is a terrific design that amounts to a spring-loaded button near the hinge on both sides of the knife. In addition to the thumb studs, you can open the knife easily by pulling back on the Axis Lock button and flipping the blade open. The knife is fully ambidextrous and I like that. I can flip or use the thumb studs with either hand to open the knife quickly, and for this reason, I like the Ares a lot more than the Mini-AFCK.
There is one factor about the Axis Lock design does take some practice: the clip is attached at the butt end of the knife rather than at the hinge end. Since most clip knives have their clips attached on the hinge end, the Ares takes some practice to get used to the knife coming out of your pocket with the blade down. It is also wise to avoid loosening the hinge too much so that the knife does not accidentally open in your pocket.
The AXIS locking mechanism is an ingenious marvel that has been touted by some as quite possibly “the strongest folding lock ever.” It’s the culmination of four years of “tinkering” by renowned custom knife makers Bill McHenry and Jason Williams. The features of the AXIS lock are significant and greatly enhance the function of knives. First and foremost is the strength. This lock is definitely more than adequate for the demands of normal knife use. A close second to strength is the inherent AXIS advantage of being totally ambidextrous without user compromise. The blade can be readily actuated open or closed with either hand- without ever having to place flesh in the blade path. Lastly, and certainly not any less impressive, is the “smoothness” with which the mechanism and blade function. By design there are no traditional “friction” parts to the AXIS mechanism, making the action the much smoother. And it’s all reasonably exposed so you can easily clean away any unwarranted debris. Basically, AXIS gets its function from a spring-loaded bar which rides forward and back in a slot machined into both liners. The bar extends to both sides of the knife; spanning the space between the liners and is positioned over the rear of the blade. It engages a ramped notch cut into the tang portion of the knife blade when it is opened. Two omega style springs, one on each liner, give the locking bar its inertia to engage the knife tang, and as a result the tang is wedged solidly between a sizable stop pin and the AXIS bar itself.
I like the beefy feel of this knife. When it’s locked open, it feels more like a fixed blade than a folder. If you needed to drive it through a steel oil drum, it would go (although I wouldn’t advise punishing a beautiful knife like this in this way).
You will notice in the hinge close-up that this blade is dated “Nov. 2000”. When Benchmade brought out the Ares in 2000, the grip color was the burgundy and black scheme, but they also produced 1000 of the green and black knives. These 1000 knives were a sort of market test and were etched with the date of issue on their blades. Benchmade learned that people actually liked the green and black scheme better so they brought it out as a regular production item in 2001 with the model number 735 but without the dating on the blade. The green and black Model 730’s with the date on the blade are already collector items since there were only 1000 of them produced and no more will be made.
Syd says two thumbs up on the Ares Axis folder.